Monday, January 20, 2014
The Guantanamo Prison/Detention Camp
In the late 1950s, there was a revolution in Cuba. The corrupt (dishonest) leader of Cuba (Fulgencio Batista) was removed from power by the people and Fidel Castro became the ruler/leader of Cuba.
Before Castro took power the USA had an agreement with Batista. Batista allowed the USA to use an area of Cuba as a naval base (for US Navy ships). After Castro took control of the government, he wanted the US Navy to leave Cuba, but the US refused to do this. So now there is a US military base (area) on the tip of Cuba and the Cubans cannot do anything to get rid of it.
After 09/11/2001, the United States began sending prisoners from Afghanistan to a prison at this military base. They did this because they did not want the prisoners to be in the USA. Anyone in the USA gets certain 'rights.' For instance, you cannot be kept in a prison without a trial for too long in the USA (a trial is a process in which a judge or jury determines whether you are innocent or guilty). So US law does not apply in Guantanamo (the name of the US military base). Some men have been kept in prisons in Guantanamo for over 10 years without a trial.
When Barack Obama was running for the presidency in 2008, he stated that the Guantanamo prisons were wrong and that they had to be shut down. The prisons are still standing. Here is a very interesting article by a journalist who visited Guantanamo.
Vocabulary to help you understand the article:
a media tour - media is a plural noun for 'medium.' A newspaper is a news medium. A TV station might also be a news medium. A medium is something that you get something from. If you have several of these news sources, they are often referred to as "the media" or "news media."
a prison or jail - a place where people who have supposedly done something wrong are held to keep them from causing further harm and to punish them
deemed - considered, thought to be
enemy combatants - basically, a combatant is someone who fights, a soldier
affiliates - friends, allies, co-workers
Gitmo - a shortened version of the name Guantanamo
to be charged with a crime - when it is officially claimed that a person probably committed a crime; if a person has been charged with a crime, an official has formally stated that the person did something wrong, and the person must now go to trial to determine for sure whether he/she is guilty or innocent. So many of the men at Guantanamo have never even been told that they did anything wrong.
cleared for transfer - it is OK for them to leave the prison and go to a foreign country
admissible evidence - evidence or facts that can be used in a trial or a court. Admissible means something can be admitted or given to a judge in a trial.
a hurdle - an obstacle, something that is stopping something else from happening
languishing - these men are 'languishing' means that they are stuck in one place with nothing to do; basically if you are languishing, you are stuck somewhere and you cannot do anything and you begin to feel worse and worse
thwarting - stopping
aging campaign promise - his promise to free the prisoners is getting older and older; he made this promise in 2008 during his first presidential campaign
controversial - if something is controversial, it causes people to have very different opinions and to potentially argue about the issue
detention facility - a place where people are held against their will
tropical surroundings - very warm, very green, lush
chaperoned - escorted; if you are chaperoned somewhere, someone takes you there but also closely watches you
they stress - they emphasize
humanely - kindly
a limbo - a long situation in which nothing happens and which does not seem to have an end; to be in limbo means you have been waiting for something to happen and you continue to wait for something to happen
overrun - there are giant lizards all over the island
a cul de sac - this usually means a dead-end or place where you can't go any farther, but in this case it means little areas where you can buy stuff
parceled out into - divided into; a parcel is a little package
extensive - detailed
a mess hall - a place where soldiers eat
a surveillance camera - a camera which records what happens in an area
their own messaging about the prison - so the US government wants journalists to have a certain interpretation of the prison and this is the message that the tour guides try to give
detainees - the government does not call the men in the prison 'prisoners,' it uses a softer term: detainees. If someone is 'detained' he/she is kept in custody or a prison temporarily. These 'detainees' have been kept from their families for over 10 years. If you are late for a meeting, you might say 'I was detained from getting here on time by bad traffic.'
non-compliant - if someone is non-compliant, they refuse to do what they are told to do. So many prisoners refuse to follow orders to protest how they have been treated. To protest something is to express your belief that something is wrong through some type of action.
to shun something - to avoid something
shackled - chained, tied to
solitary confinement - to be kept all alone in a prison cell
to jeopardize something - to put something in danger, to be a threat to something
censorship - when people in power delete or remove information they do not want others to see
to ban something - to prohibit something, to stop something from being given or sold
a nasal tube - they stick a plastic, long tube through the prisoners nose and into his stomach to force food into him. This seems barbaric and cruel to me, as well as disgusting. This is clearly a form of inhumane punishment. The USA is not supposed to be doing stuff like this. It is disgraceful that even with a president who won the Nobel Peace prize, the US treats people like this.
internment - if you are interned, you are placed in an area that you can't leave
to be accused of something - this is when someone (or the police) states that someone has done something wrong
dispassionate - not feeling any emotion